Friday, December 14, 2007
Was Huckabee Right?
Recently Mike Huckabee asked a question during an interview that has caused a bit of controversy. He simply asked if the Mormons taught that Jesus and Satan were brothers? Now, first of all, let us note that Huckabee did not say that the Mormons taught this. He merely asked if it was so, admitting that he did not know a lot about Mormon doctrine. This little piece of fact was conveniently forgotten in the transmission of the story. However, in an election season we can expect such things to happen. Any little word that has potential for controversy is pounced upon with great enthusiasm by those seeking sensationalism.
But aside from this, the question is stilled begged: Do the Mormons teach that Satan and Jesus were brothers? There has been swift response by Mormons to distance themselves from this, and for good reason. Even nominal Christians would be quite offended to be told that the Savior of the Word and the arch-enemy of God are essentially related.
To answer the question, I first turned to the major texts of Mormonism. However, I quickly realized that all I had to do was to turn to the LDS official web site for the answer. Under the section "I Have a Question" one inquirer asks: "How can Jesus and Lucifer be spirit brothers when their characters and purposes are so utterly opposed?" I want to quote the entire response here so that there is no question about the context or overall content as presented. But we must understand a few things before I give you the quote:
-According to Mormon belief Lucifer, like Jesus and many others, are all considered "spirit children" of the Father. Jesus, as the second person of the Trinity, and thus God, is not essentially distinguished from other beings, such as the angels, which are not God, or from men, which are not angels. They all enjoy a common source.
-Mormons would not say that Satan and Jesus are brothers, but as this answer shows, would rather indicate that Lucifer and Jesus as spirit brothers, noting that Satan is what Lucifer became when he rebelled.
So, here is what Jess L. Christensen, Institute of Religion director at Utah State University, Logan, Utah, answered on behalf of the LDS church (Note that the words in bold were done by me to greater emphasize those sections addressing the issue at hand):
"On first hearing, the doctrine that Lucifer and our Lord, Jesus Christ, are brothers may seem surprising to some—especially to those unacquainted with latter-day revelations. But both the scriptures and the prophets affirm that Jesus Christ and Lucifer are indeed offspring of our Heavenly Father and, therefore, spirit brothers. Jesus Christ was with the Father from the beginning. Lucifer, too, was an angel “who was in authority in the presence of God,” a “son of the morning.” (See Isa. 14:12; D&C 76:25–27.) Both Jesus and Lucifer were strong leaders with great knowledge and influence. But as the Firstborn of the Father, Jesus was Lucifer’s older brother. (See Col. 1:15; D&C 93:21.)
How could two such great spirits become so totally opposite? The answer lies in the principle of agency, which has existed from all eternity. (See D&C 93:30–31.) Of Lucifer, the scripture says that because of rebellion “he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies.” (Moses 4:4.) Note that he was not created evil, but became Satan by his own choice.
When our Father in Heaven presented his plan of salvation, Jesus sustained the plan and his part in it, giving the glory to God, to whom it properly belonged. Lucifer, on the other hand, sought power, honor, and glory only for himself. (See Isa. 14:13–14; Moses 4:1–2.) When his modification of the Father’s plan was rejected, he rebelled against God and was subsequently cast out of heaven with those who had sided with him. (See Rev. 12:7–9; D&C 29:36–37.)
That brothers would make dramatically different choices is not unusual. It has happened time and again, as the scriptures attest: Cain chose to serve Satan; Abel chose to serve God. (See Moses 5:16–18.) Esau “despised his birthright”; Jacob wanted to honor it. (Gen. 25:29–34.) Joseph’s brothers sought to kill him; he sought to preserve them. (Gen. 37:12–24; Gen. 45:3–11.)
It is ironic that the agency with which Lucifer rebelled is the very gift he tried to take from man. His proposal was that all be forced back into God’s presence. (See Moses 4:1, 3.) But the principle of agency is fundamental to the existence and progression of intelligent beings: as we make wise choices, we grow in light and truth. On the other hand, wrong choices—such as the one Satan made—stop progress and can even deny us blessings that we already have. (See D&C 93:30–36.)
In order for us to progress, therefore, we must have the opportunity to choose good or evil. Interestingly, Satan and his angels—those who opposed agency—have become that opposition. As the prophet Lehi taught, “Men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.” (2 Ne. 2:27.)
Although the Father has allowed Satan and his angels to tempt mankind, he has given each of us the ability to rise above temptation. (See 1 Cor. 10:13.) He has also given us the great gift of the Atonement.
When the Lord placed enmity between Eve’s children and the devil, Satan was told that he would bruise the heel of Eve’s seed, but her seed would bruise his head. (See Moses 4:21.) President Joseph Fielding Smith explained that “the ‘God of peace,’ who according to the scriptures is to bruise Satan, is Jesus Christ.” (Answers to Gospel Questions, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1957, 1:3.) Satan would bruise the Savior’s heel by leading men to crucify Him. But through his death and resurrection, Christ overcame death for all of us; and through his atonement, he offers each of us a way to escape the eternal ramifications of sin. Thus, Satan’s machinations have been frustrated and eventually he will be judged, bound, and cast into hell forever. (See Rev. 20:1–10; D&C 29:26–29.)
In Hebrew, the word bruise means “to crush or grind.” Therefore, the very heel that was bruised will crush Satan and will help us overcome the world and return to our Father. As we use our agency to choose good over evil, the atonement of Christ prepares the way for us to return to our Father in Heaven.
We can only imagine the sorrow of our Heavenly Father as he watched a loved son incite and lead a rebellion and lose his opportunity for exaltation. But we can also imagine the Father’s love and rejoicing as he welcomed back the beloved son who had valiantly and perfectly fought the battles of life and brought about the great Atonement through his suffering and death."